State seizes property of biggest sales tax scofflaw

  • Article by: KATIE HUMPRHEY and JAMES ELI SHIFFER , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: June 27, 2009 - 7:24 AM

The owner of a car stereo business is $544,293 behind on tax payments. The Burnsville raid was called "a last resort."

The owner of a business that topped the state's list of delinquent sales-tax payers won't be driving his white two-door 2003 Lexus today.

Employees from the Minnesota Department of Revenue seized Bun Chhein Om's car on Friday along with enough rims, stereo equipment and other car accessories to fill a 21-foot truck.

His business, Bass Zone Inc., is the biggest debtor on the Minnesota Department of Revenue's list of businesses with revoked sales tax permits, Whistleblower reported in April. The list, available at www.taxes.state.mn.us, has been publicized by the agency to shame debtors into coughing up back taxes. In the year since the list debuted in March 2008, the Revenue Department said that it had collected $278,700 from debtors on the list and that 18 businesses had paid up to get their names off it.

That didn't work for Bass Zone Inc., whose permit was revoked in September 2008. The car audio business's former location at 420 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis was empty earlier this year.

But the size of Bass Zone's back tax bill -- $544,293 -- stood out. It's twice as large as the next biggest debtor on the list, Stillwater Restaurants Inc. (St. Croix Crab House), at $272,782.

Acting on a tip Friday afternoon, the department seized property belonging to Om and Bass Zone Inc. at BZ3 at 2613 W. Hwy. 13 in Burnsville. Om is also an owner of BZ3, another car audio business. Terri Steenblock, director of the department's collection division, said BZ3 is not liable for Bass Zone Inc.'s tax problems.

Steenblock said the department believes Om was hiding some Bass Zone merchandise at BZ3.

A listed phone number for Om prompted a message that the number had been disconnected.

Department of Revenue employees spent more than two hours loading property into the truck. Steenblock said the total value of the property was unknown.

"It's a lot of stereo equipment, speakers, a lot," she said.

The department also collected a plasma television, a trailer, under-car lights and more than two dozen rims.

Steenblock said such seizures happen only when all other collection options are exhausted. Before seizing property, the Department of Revenue sends bills, tries to set up payment plans, and looks at wages and bank funds.

"We don't want to do this," she said. "This is absolutely a last resort."

Om has 10 days to pay up or otherwise dispute the seizure. After that, the items will eventually be put up for sale.

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